Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lucknow Chikan: truly "Gramudyog"

The "chikan" work based apparels are a speciality of Lucknow city. I was in the city last week with my mother. Since we had travelled all the way to Lucknow, and there would be no one travelling in the near future, everybody whom we knew asked us to buy chikan wear for them. Since the "orders" were large in number, we went to the wholesale market of chikan wear to purchase the stuff. Since most of the stuff to be bought was ladies' wear, I was trying to kill time in the city of Nawabs. So, I struck a conversation with the shopkeeper and tried to extract some history about the chikan work. This is an account of what he told me.
The art of chikan work was born out of the Nawabs' and their kins' desire to wear clothes that had exquisite designs in the form of embroidery. The First war of Independence in 1857 saw the end of the Nawabs of Lucknow. But the legacy of chikan embroidery left behind by them still lives on and is strongly thriving. And this is perhaps one of those industries which truly works on the idea of "gramudyog" or employment at village level. All the embroidery is done by hand and there is no automation involved. Automated equipment is probably not possible for such intricate designs.

This is how the making of a chikan apparel works. The cloth for the apparel comes into Lucknow from various cloth mills across India. The wholesaler who purchases the cloth is the one who sells the end product. A design of the embroidery is etched upon the cloth according to its end use (say ladies' wear or gents' wear). The pieces of cloth are then distributed, by an agent, to women in various villages in a radius of 100 km from Lucknow. All these women who do the embroidery, work from their homes. Each woman is given a fixed number of pieces of cloth for embroidering. The work of embroidery goes on for around four months. All this embroidery is carried out by the women in the premises of their homes, using their hands to sew the intricate patterns. After the embroidery is over, the agent comes and collects the clothes from the women. The agent has a fixed frequency of touring the villages to collect all the clothes. The wages depend on the amount of embroidery work that goes onto the cloth. The more the embroidery, the more is the wage paid to the woman doing it. These wages are paid when the clothes are collected by the agent. The agent then brings back all the clothes to the wholesaler, who then gets them washed by washermen before putting them out for sale. In the entire process, only manufacturing of the cloth is mechanised. In the remaining process it is the humans who rule the roost.
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Monday, February 04, 2008

Shameless Symonds

So, Mr. Andrew Symonds is "shattered" after Judge Hansen delivered his verdict in the "monkey" incident. He says that his "blood boils" if anyone questions his integrity!! These are the words coming from the batsman who stood his ground despite nicking an edge to the 'keeper in Sydney. In the post-match interview, he said that he is out only if the umpire says so. And, in the next match at WACA, he showed his bat to the umpire, indicating that he had nicked the ball and hence, not LBW.

So, what integrity is Symonds talking about? His integrity stands shattered by these two incidents. In the Sydney test, he says that the umpire should judge whether he is out or not, and in the Perth test, once the umpire decided he is out, he questions the decision by showing his bat to the umpire. Here is a man who is not ready to stand by his own statement. And he is talking about integrity.

Let's go through the incidents of Sydney. Harbhajan pats Bret Lee on his bottom and acknowledges the delivery bowled. Symonds, who had no business for what transpired between Harbhajan and Lee, walks in and says something to Harbhajan. Harbhajan, being irritated by Symonds comments responds in a manner, which the Aussies treat as their fiefdom. Symonds misinterprets the response (well, it just goes to justify that he has a brain, no larger than a monkey's) and then suddenly Hayden and Ponting have heard everything that transpired between the two. But in their testimony before Hansen, neither can recall the exact words used!! So much so for the integrity of the Aussie cricketers.

admitted during the testimony that he went to Harbhajan and said something first. So, Harbhajan rightly retorted back to the Aussie, which Symonds didn't expect at all. Therefore, judge Hansen was right in saying that Symonds started the entire incident. Now, where is the issue of "questioning" Symonds integrity(?) when he himself has admitted to being the initiator of the conversation.

The Aussies used the legal process laid down by the ICC to have Harbhajan punished. But, couldn't come up with the evidence to nail Harbhajan. So, the legal process which the Aussies took shelter under, itself dumped their claims. Then, why is Symonds sulking? And in this entire incident, has Bret Lee got to say anything on whether he felt it appropriate for being acknowledged by the opposition on the field? If he was okay with that, then Symonds had no business at all to say anything to Harbhajan. And if he said that, then he should be ready to face the consequences.

P.S. Symonds should not be too worried about the words "teri maa ki c*****". The Aussies themselves say that the word "bastard" is a term of endearment for them. The term sticks to a person only after some incidents that occur in that part of the body!!
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